Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is supporting the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s (RLSS UK) national Drowning Prevention Week campaign, which runs from 17-24 June 2023.
As part of this, we are urging parents to make sure their children know how to stay safe and enjoy the water this summer.
Whether heading abroad this summer or opting for a staycation, RLSS UK is concerned that families will head to beaches and inland water locations this summer, without considering the potential dangers, putting themselves and others at risk.
Those of us who will be venturing abroad for their summer holiday, may find themselves using non-lifeguarded pools and therefore be at risk if they do not have the necessary water safety skills.
Figures indicate that around 25 per cent of primary pupils leave school unable to swim, and experts fear that as a result of the pandemic, many young people lack the ability to swim or self-rescue.
Drowning Prevention Week aims to equip everybody across the UK and Ireland with the skills and knowledge, to make the right decisions about water safety.
Over 300 people accidentally drown in the UK and Ireland every year and many more suffer injury, sometimes life-changing, when they survive drowning.
Neil Whiteman, Community Safety Advisor, RBFRS, said: “We are urging people to take care around Berkshire’s waterways this year, particularly now as the warmer weather is upon us.
“RBFRS Prevention teams are working closely with our emergency service partners, local authorities and the Environment Agency across the Thames Valley to ensure water safety messaging reaches schools, leisure centres and members of our communities.
“We are proud to play our part in ensuring our families have a safe summer. We recognise how vitally important it is for children to know how to stay safe near water, and urge our communites to access RLSS UK’s free water safety resources on the Charity’s website.
“If you do see someone in difficulty remember ‘Call, Tell and Throw – Call 999, tell the person to float on their back and throw something to them to help them float.”
The Royal Life Saving Society UK’s Charity Director, Lee Heard, said: “The UK’s beautiful waterways should be places where everyone feels at ease, and can take pleasure from their surroundings, whatever their age, whatever their activity level. But we’re urging people to educate themselves and others on how to enjoy water safely, and prevent a fun day out ending in tragedy.
“The Drowning Prevention Week campaign is crucial this year. In recent years, young people have missed out on the vital opportunity to swim, leaving a dramatic gap in school swimming and water safety education.
“RLSS UK believes that through free, accessible education and training, everyone can enjoy water safely. We urge as many parents as possible to get involved with the campaign, use our free online resources, and give their children the skills to enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water.”
Visit www.rlss.org.uk/DPW to access the Charity’s free water safety resources.